Dr. Andrew Hartman, an orthopedic surgeon of Orthopedic Specialists of North County, recently published an article in “The Coast News” regarding how to outgrow your aches and pains through physical activity. In the article, he discusses the positive impact of continuous exercises mixed with daily activities against a progressing osteoarthritis condition.
Fight The Aches and Pains of Arthritis with Exercise
The best protection against the aches and pains of aging joints and arthritis is regular physical activity. It can relieve joint pain and stiffness, and improve joint function. When incorporated into your lifestyle you can experience improved mood, cardiovascular health and quality of life; and improve management of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
You don’t need to become a gym rat, or aerobics fanatic, or run 10 miles, to achieve these benefits. Two and a half hours a week of moderate intensity aerobic exercise or one and 15 minutes of high intensity aerobics every week will make you skin glow and your joints loose.
Good Low Impact Aerobic Activities
Dr. Hartman’s rule of thumb is that one minute of vigorous activity equals 2 minutes of moderate activity.
Aerobic activity makes your heart beat quicker and your breath faster, keeping the lungs and circulation is great shape, and helping control your weight. Good low impact aerobic activities include cycling, brisk walking, swimming, water aerobics, gardening, dancing, and group exercise.
Good Moderate Impact Aerobic Activities
Moderate intensity activities like walking, biking, swimming, mowing the grass or heavy yard work, doubles tennis, social dancing, conditioning workouts, tai chi and yoga can punch it up a notch. Or try softball, baseball, volley ball, skiing, roller skating and ice skating. If you can talk but not sing while working out, you are there.
Good Vigorous Aerobic Activities
For vigorous activity you might want to become a gym rat, aerobic fanatic or run 10 miles! To tell if it is really vigorous, you must be unable to sing or talk while doing any high intensity activities including jogging, running, singles tennis, jumping roped, soccer, basketball, racquetball, aerobic dance or spin class.
If you are at risk for falling, balance exercises will help prevent what could become a serious injury. Try balance walking backwards, standing on one foot and Tai Chi.
Full Body Conditioning
Mix it up. Do aerobics twice a week on alternate days with weight training the other days.
In addition to aerobics, full body conditioning requires muscle strengthening with weights and resistance band. The best routine works all major muscle groups in the body, and should be performed two to three times a week. This routine will support your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, increase strength and provide better protection and shock absorption of the joints.
When work out pay attention to how you feel while exercising to avoid pain and injuries.
The first 4-6 weeks of a new program can cause soreness and aches that should resolve in a short time. If you have joint pain after exercise, tend to the tendons and ligaments with application of Ice for not more than 20 minutes at a time, 3-4 times a day. If the soreness lasts more than 48 hours, make your next workout easier, or you can over stress the joints, muscles and tendons. Working through pain can result in injury or damage.
If you experience pain after establishing your routine, decrease frequency and duration of the workout, modify the activities, warm up before and cool down after exercise. And make sure you are wearing well fitting shoes and are able to talk during your workout.
- Start low and go slow
- Modify activity if arthritis symptoms increase
- Activities must be joint friendly
- Recognize safe places and ways to be active
- Talk to your health professional or certified exercises specialist about the best exercises for you.
When to call the doctor?
If you have any of these warning signs:
- Pain is sharp, stabbing or constant
- Pain causes a limp
- Pain that lasts more than 2 hours or gets worse at night
- Pain that is not relieved by rest, medication, and hot/cold packs
- Pain is accompanied by swelling, redness, warmth or the joint feels hot.
A well balanced, exercise routine will help you maintain and improve muscle strength, which can protect your joints, reduce your pain, and stave off the progression of arthritis. Regular exercise is important to your overall health, and quality of life.
Research shows that a good exercise program can slow progression of arthritis, and relieve pain and stiffness. Do yourself a favor and start today. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your doctor for a referral to a physical therapist, who will design a program specifically for you.
Dr. Andrew Hartman is fellowship-trained in surgery of the shoulder, elbow and hand at Orthopedic Specialists of North County San Diego. He provides the most innovative and effective treatments in combination with his surgical expertise to provide optimal patient outcomes and improved quality of life.